Global True Lithuania Lithuanian communities and heritage worldwide

Foreign locations named after Lithuania

Over 100 foreign places are named after Lithuania and its cities. These are mostly streets, avenues, parks, but there are also a few towns and districts.

Foreign cities named after Lithuanian cities

Cities of the former colonial powers have many overseas towns and cities named after them. Lithuania however lacked overseas colonies where it could have established a "New Vilnius" and "New Kaunas". Lithuanian emigration began only in late 19th century when most foreign metropolises have been already established.

However there are smaller towns named after Lithuanian locations. In Canada two are named after Vilnius: Wilno, Ontario is named after the Polish name for Vilnius, whereas Vilna, Alberta is named after the old Russian name. A village named Wilno also stands in Minnesota (USA), while South Africa has a town Memel named to resemble the old German name for Klaipėda.

City districts named after Lithuania are more numerous, all of them located in places where Lithuanian migrants once lived and most of them in the USA (e.g. Lithuanian Village in Brockton, Massachusetts). Old Lithuanian churches still stand at their centers.

Streets and squares named after Lithuania and its cities

There are tens of streets, squares, avenues and parks named after Lithuania in foreign countries and at least as many urban localities are named after Lithuania's cities.

Historically streets used to be named after ethnicities that lived in them and after cities/countries they led to. Examples of this are Klaipėda Street in Liepaja (Latvia) that leads to Klaipėda and Lithuania Avenue (Lietuvas Šoseja) in Jelgava (Latvia) leading to Lithuania. In the countries of massive Lithuanian migration a few Lithuanian streets are located in traditional Lithuanian districts (e.g. in Chicago, Sao Paulo) while others are further away but still named so due to local Lithuanian initiative (e.g. in Montreal).

Lithuanian architectural details in Lithuanian Plaza Road, which once had a Lithuanian-majority population. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

When Lithuania was under the Soviet occupation (1940-1990) dedicating placenames to it signified local government support for Lithuanian independence (this way Italian Christian democrats supported renaming a plaza in Rome after Lithuania whereas the Supreme Lithuanian Liberation Committee (VLIK) members participated in naming of the Lithuanian streets in Buenos Aires, Chicago).

Opposite political motives influenced the establishment of Lithuanian (Litovskiy, Litovskaya) streets in the cities of former Soviet Union. Many urban places there used to be named after other locations controlled by the Soviet Union thus promoting the idea that all of them are in a single "friendly socialist space". Shops, restaurants and cinemas mostly dropped such names after privatization, however the streets, usually located in Soviet-built dormitory districts, are mostly not renamed.

Lithuanian street in Moscow. Like most similarly named locations in the former Soviet Union it is full of similar high-rise residentials. Google Street View.

In Poland for silar reasons many streets are named after Vilnius (Wileńska) or the Vilnius's Gate of Dawn (Ostrabramska) Vilnius has many Poles and it used to be ruled by Poland in the interwar period.

There are Lithuania Streets even in poor countries where Lithuanian communities never existed. In these areas the population numbers exploded in the 20th century so much that there were simply not enough acceptable street names. A neutral and easy solution was to name new streets after the world countries and cities. In Mexico alone there are now over 10 such Lithuania (Lituania) streets, usually located next to streets named after Latvia, Estonia and other European countries.

Calle Lituania in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Google Street View.

In 20th century the "sister city movement gained momentum and many Lithuanian cities and towns have well over 10 sister cities abroad. Such "urban twinning" agreements sometimes lead to an exchange of street names. For example, there is a Vilnius Street in Erfurt (Germany) and likewise an Erfurt Street in Vilnius (Erfurt was the first city Vilnius twinned with, having received a Soviet permit to do so in 1970 under difficulty); there is a Vilnius Square in Tbilisi (Georgia) and a Tbilisi Square in Vilnius.

A fragment of wall with Lithuanian details in Vilnius Square, Tbilisi. Some of the sister city locations have such courtesy details, others have just name. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Article by ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.


Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.